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Archive for the ‘Scouting’ Category

Frederick Russell Burnham – An American Scout

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

Although I grew up in Scouting, it was not until just a few years ago that I learned the story of Frederick Russell Burnham.

Burnham’s story is an amazing tale, that could only have happened in the 19th century. He served as an Scout for the United States Army during the Indian wars and later emigrated to southern Africa where he served as chief of Scouts for British Forces fighting the Matabele and Boers. Eventually, he was awarded the rank of Major by King Edward VII and invested into the Companions of the Distinguished Service Order, the highest military honor bestowed upon an American in the Second Boer War.

During this period he worked with Lord Baden-Powell, teaching him woodcraft. Lord Baden-Powell put them to immediate use in his campaign and when he later started the Scouting movement, those lessons became integral parts of the program.


What I find most amazing about their friendship is that Lord Baden-Powell adopted the Stetson and Neckerchief worn by Burnham. When Lord Baden-Powell created Scouting, a multi-use uniform item was the neckerchief. As this was not a common item of British military garb, I had always wondered how it and found itself into the Boy Scout uniform which was initially based upon military clothing. Conversely, during the Indian Wars in particular, you’d find a US Army Cavalry Trooper wearing a neckerchief which could be used for a variety of tasks, on the trail and in camp. Once I learned about the Burnham connection, I realized the neckerchief had come full circle, from the United States, to England, and then back to us.

But he did so much more than give us a neckerchief. Burnham participated in the early Scouting movement and was a lifelong friend of Lord Baden-Powell.

Frederick Russell Burnham: Explorer, discoverer, cowboy, and Scout. Native American, he served as chief of scouts in the Boer War, an intimate friend of Lord Baden-Powell. It was on some of his exploits demanding great courage, alertness, skill in surmounting the perils of the out-of-doors, that the founder of Scouting based some of the activities of the Boy Scout program. As an honorary Scout of the Boy Scouts of America, he has served as an inspiration to the youth of the Nation and is the embodiment of the qualities of the ideal Scout.

— 27th Annual Report of the Boy Scouts of America 1936

I’ve read several books on him, but my favorite is “A Splendid Savage: The Restless Life of Frederick Russell Burnham” by Steve Kemper. Be sure to check it out. And please, share the story of the American origin of the Scout neckerchief.

National Eagle Scout Day

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

Today is the 5th Annual National Eagle Scout Day as declared by BSA’s National Council.

2017 National Scout Jamboree – US Army Special Operations Recruiting Battalion 

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

During my recent visit to the 2017 National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, I got to check out some of the military support to the quadrennial event.  On hand was the US Army Special Operations Recruiting Battalion with their Special Operations Semi.

Inside were multiple simulators to give participants a taste of military skills. 

Additionally, SORB gave away the various components of this patch set throughout the day. 

2017 National Scout Jamboree – USSOCOM Leadership Experience

Monday, July 24th, 2017

Last week I had the opportunity to visit the National Scout Jamboree at the Bechtel Summit near Beckley, West Virginia. It’s held every four years and hosts contingents from all over the US, as well as international Scouts.


The military presence was impressive, with representatives from each of the services, including their SOF elements.

There were several hands-on opportunities. One of the events available to the Scouts attending the Jamboree is the United States Special Operations Command Leadership Experience.

As an ad hoc team, Scouts had to complete seven challenges.

1. Balance on a raised platform without any corners touching the ground as another team member gets on.

2. Carry 30 empty water jugs using three steel pipes and unlimited rope.

3. Grab a bucket full of rocks out of the center of a circle without crossing the circle line and touching it. Scouts had 2 metal poles and a ten foot long piece of rope. Anyone who crossed was “dead” and had to exercise while the remaining teammates complete the task.

4. Team Carry 3 of teammates that are “casualties of war” on a stretcher to a turning point and back.

5. Team carry a teammate from one end to the other without letting him touch the ground. During the event the person carried had to be at least 2 inches off the ground. Scouts were allowed to use square boards and anyway to keep him 2 inches off the ground.

6. The goal was to compete with another group and race to empty your bucket of tennis balls without touching the bucket and the tennis balls. Scouts were given 4 pieces of rope and the objective was to give the opposing team four tennis balls in their bucket and keep their own bucket empty.

7. Carry 4 steel pipes, an 80lbs bag, and an empty bag. From one end to another.

At each task you were given 10 minutes to complete it, except for task number 6. Each of these tasks was designed to teach everyone to lead, persevere, think, and challenge your mental and physical strength. Some events were taken from actual selection challenges to become a Green Beret in the Army.

Those who complete the course, earn this patch.

I’m proud to say that my sons earned it. It gave them a great introduction to the types of leadership challenges they’ll encounter in the service. 

Daisy Outdoor Products With Boy Scouts Of America To Promote Shooting Sport Safety And Education

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

Rogers, AR (April 12, 2017) – Daisy Outdoor Products, the most-recognized name in airguns worldwide, today announced a partnership with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to promote safety and education in the shooting sports to today’s youth. This agreement makes Daisy the official airgun of the Boy Scouts of America.

The Boy Scouts of America, the largest youth organization in the country, in association with Daisy, will provide local councils and camps throughout the country with safety-oriented experiences and lessons that are both exciting and educational.

“There is no doubt that more people have learned how to shoot with a Daisy BB gun than with any other,” said Daisy President Keith Higginbotham. “Teaching the basics of marksmanship and shooting safety, through one-on-one mentoring as well as structured programs, continues to be at the core of our mission.

“To be recognized as the Official BB Gun of the Boy Scouts of America and to be involved in this far-reaching youth shooting sports initiative is a huge source of pride,” he continued. “Hundreds of millions of adults have been positively affected by Scouting, learning to become responsible citizens, developing character and becoming self-reliant. Involvement in the shooting sports develops similar traits, such as discipline, patience, self-control and responsibility.”

This partnership makes Daisy’s iconic inflatable ranges available to the BSA’s 274 local councils as well as enhancing the shooting sports program at camp sites across the country. The inflatable ranges allow seasoned instructors to work individually with young people who may be shooting for the first time. Instructors emphasize shooting safety rules and teach basic marksmanship, including breath control, trigger pull, sight picture and more.

“As the nation’s leading organization that brings outdoor adventures to life for millions of young people, we greatly appreciate the support and commitment that Daisy Outdoor Products is providing to Scouting through this important partnership,” said Brad Farmer, Assistant Chief Executive of the Boy Scouts of America.

Ask any hunter or shooting sports enthusiast how he or she was introduced to the sport and the answer you’re going to hear most is that it all started with a Daisy. Together, Daisy and the Boy Scouts of America will present a comprehensive shooting sports program that will build character while introducing young people to the wholesome sport of shooting.

For more information go to, and hashtag #itallstartswithadaisy on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

English Boy Scouts Brave The Snow

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

Thanks Polly for this cool video from 1963.

(Updated) Discontinued BSA Merit Badges : Master-at-Arms

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

This photo is said to be of Boy Scouts participating in the short-lived Master-at-Arms badge. It was one of the original 14 merit badges which debuted in the 1910 version of the Boy Scout Handbook and unfortunately, this one lasted just a year. The badge was missing from the 1911 version of the manual when it was released.

To earn the badge, a Scout had to master three of the following combat skills (the surviving manual says two):
-Single Stick
-Ju Jitsu
-Quarterstaff Fencing

Update – Kirk Lawson has introduced a reproduction of the original merit badge pamphlet. The drawings come from this manual and you can download it here.

Interestingly, the pamphlet is adted 1925 but it would not be unheard of for a merit badge pamphlet to continue to be published even after it was no longer a merit badge because they were printed by private publishers at the time, and not by BSA.

Can you imagine such a merit badge today?